Security Analysis of Accountable Anonymity in Dissent

Ewa Syta, Henry Corrigan-Gibbs, Shu-Chun Weng, David Wolinsky, Bryan Ford, and Aaron Johnson

ACM Transactions on Information and System Security (TISSEC)
Volume 17, Issue 1, August 2014


Users often wish to communicate anonymously on the Internet, for example, in group discussion or instant messaging forums. Existing solutions are vulnerable to misbehaving users, however, who may abuse their anonymity to disrupt communication. Dining Cryptographers Networks (DC-nets) leave groups vulnerable to denial-of-service and Sybil attacks; mix networks are difficult to protect against traffic analysis; and accountable voting schemes are unsuited to general anonymous messaging.

Dissent is the first general protocol offering provable anonymity and accountability for moderate-size groups, while efficiently handling unbalanced communication demands among users. We present an improved and hardened Dissent protocol, define its precise security properties, and offer rigorous proofs of these properties. The improved protocol systematically addresses the delicate balance between provably hiding the identities of well-behaved users, while provably revealing the identities of disruptive users, a challenging task because many forms of misbehavior are inherently undetectable. The new protocol also addresses several nontrivial attacks on the original Dissent protocol stemming from subtle design flaws.